Read Across America

With so many ways to celebrate Read Across America 2019, where do you start? Our librarians offer up programming suggestions while sharing the unique library programs that worked for them.

Paul Duckworth: Your library could make plans to plug Read Across America with its own local take on things: "Read Across Los Angeles," "Read Across Greene County," etc. It could even encompass a state if the state library association got involved.

Besides encouraging kids to read at school, a group of library staff and volunteers could host a reading event at a shopping mall. Your program could involve a number of local organizations that cooperated together on this, and could include local personalities from TV, politics, religious groups, etc.

Kat Kan: This year, my school is in a temporary facility while it's being rebuilt after Hurricane Michael. We had scheduled a Scholastic Book Fair to take place during Read Across America, but since the hurricane, most of our students are either living in damaged homes in various stages of repair/rebuild or in temporary living situations.

In lieu of a Read Across America library program, because most of them lost many of their possessions, including books, I'm hoping to do a book giveaway, using books donated by many people across Florida and other states. I'd love for each student to choose a couple of books to take with them and keep for their own, pending Principal approval.

Stephanie Campbell: Rather than hire performers, try inviting local “celebrities” to come to the library for a Read Across America event. Your mayor, borough council members, county commissioners, judges, congresspersons, firefighters, police officers generally love doing this sort of thing and are happy for the positive publicity.

Be sure you send out a press release as this makes for a good photo opportunity. This invitation may also win you some new influential community advocates. Though not everyone is a natural performer, suggest they read from their favorite children’s book and you may be pleasantly surprised!

Suzanne Hawley: I used to hold an annual evening reading activity in the library that included families. Parents were required to come with their children. Because our elementary schools were so large, I had to limit the program to just one grade at a time. Families would bring blankets, pillows, and books.

Here’s how it ran:
    • Everyone reads silently for 30 minutes
    • Break into teams, with team leaders calling out the number of pages each team had read during that time
    • Activity time (a story teller, games, etc.) for the next 30 minutes
    • Silent reading for 30 minutes
    • Team leaders again call out the number of pages their team read
    • We’d then go into a room next door and have pizza and drinks for 30 minutes before returning for the final 30-minute read
    • We’d end the evening with teams telling the numbers of pages they read, followed by a sing-along
    We all had a wonderful time! I did this for many years and at several different schools.
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